Usually, your phone is glued to your side, if not in your hand for most of the day, then in a nearby pocket, purse, or couch cushion. But then the unthinkable happens. You leave it behind on the train, someone nabs it from your backpack, or you simply can’t find it.
In this stressful situation, it’s helpful knowing there are steps to getting your phone back — or, at the very least, protecting all the information this device holds. Follow these tips if you ever lose your phone.
Step #1: Look for Your Phone
First of all, you want to make sure you didn’t thoughtlessly put it down somewhere, like the top of a bookshelf or between couch cushions.
Get Someone to Call Your Phone.
If it’s nearby, you’ll hear the ringer or buzz of vibration. Use the sounds to track your phone.
If you accidentally left it behind at a restaurant, there’s a good chance your server will have placed it aside for safekeeping. But don’t worry if they don’t answer — your phone could be out of batteries. Retrace your steps and inquire if any of the bars or stores you frequented has a lost and found.
Use Your Phone’s GPS
If you have enabled your phone’s GPS, you can track its location using Find My Device (Android) or Find My Phone (Apple). This function only works if no one has taken out your SIM card.
Step #2: Lock Your Information
Let’s say your phone wasn’t misplaced in your home, and you can’t track it using GPS. Now is the time to lock access to your phone. After all, this device contains a lot of personal information.
Contacts, private messages, browsing history, pictures, and digital wallet details — these all hang in the balance if someone steals your device. You face significant risk if you use your phone for banking — whether you pay bills or borrow online loans.
To make sure no one can access your bank or online line of credit account, you’ll want to erase this data. You can do this remotely by logging into your iCloud or Google account to erase your device. Just be sure you want to do this, as erasing your device is permanent.
Step #3: Contact Your Carrier
At this stage, you’ve likely given up finding your phone; it’s either lost for good or someone stole it and removed your SIM card. With this in mind, you need to speak with your carrier about your bad luck.
Your carrier might be able to brick the device remotely so that no one can use it, even with a new SIM card. You’ll also want to disable your service until you can get a replacement phone.
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Step #4: Get Insurance Involved
If you have cell phone insurance, reach out to your insurer. Depending on your package, your insurance may cover lost or stolen phones. If so, you can make a claim and get a new phone this way.
Step #5: Affording a New Phone
Now that the latest flagships cost $1,000 or more, replacing a lost or stolen phone is expensive. And that’s without factoring in your old financing. Your carrier will likely expect you to pay off your lost phone.
If you don’t have the savings to afford a new device out of pocket, consider putting your device on a line of credit carefully.
Be Careful with Your Next Device!
Losing a phone is stressful. Once you get a new one, make sure you take care with where you keep it to avoid this happening again.